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Bosnian & South Slavic Film Series

University Collaborative Launches Bosnian Film Series

Free Screenings at SLU, Fontbonne, and UM-St. Louis

A new film series will feature work from Bosnia-Herzegovina, showcasing both classic films and more recent offerings of South Slavic cinema. The series is part of collaborative partnership among faculty at Saint Louis University, Fontbonne University, and the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

The series begins on Friday, March 1, 2019 at 7 pm with a free screening of a digitally remastered copy of the film Walter Defends Sarajevo (Valter brani Sarajevo) on the campus of Saint Louis University in the Anheuser Busch Auditorium in the SLU School of Business (3674 Lindell Blvd). Admission is free but tickets are required and can be obtained at: this registration link.

The March 1 film program begins at 6 pm with complimentary Bosnian food. At 6:45 pm, Saint Louis University faculty member Zdenko Mandusic, Ph.D., a professor of Russian in the department of languages, literatures, and cultures at SLU and an authority on South Slavic cinema, will provide an introduction.

The film, in its original language with English subtitles, depicts a fictionalized account of Yugoslav Partisan leader Vladimir Peric, known by his nom de guerre ‘Walter,’ who led a resistance group in Sarajevo against fascism in World War II.

“Walter Defends Sarajevo is a classic in the genre of Partisan cinema made in the former Yugoslavia in the early 1970’s and became an icon of Yugoslav pop culture. The political message of social unity in defense against foreign occupation resonated with audiences then and now,” noted Professor Mandusic.

Following its successful premiere in Sarajevo in 1972 and distribution in 60 foreign countries, Walter Defends Sarajevo acquired cult status in China for generations of film goers. A museum dedicated to the film recently opened in Sarajevo.

A Wider Understanding

“Many of us know about Sarajevo from the war and genocide in Bosnia during the 1990s,” remarked Dr. Benjamin Moore, Director of Bosnia Memory Project at Fontbonne University and a collaborative partner in the new film series. (Fontbonne’s Bosnia Memory Project (www.fontbonne.edu/bosnia) collects oral histories from Bosnian survivors and sponsors related programming with support from the National Endowment for Humanities).

“The St. Louis community is today home to more than 70,000 Bosnians who came because of the war. The new film series grew out of a desire to enlarge our understanding of the context from which Bosnians came, while deepening our appreciation for Bosnian cinema and culture,” said Moore.

Exploring Complex Social and Political Realities

“Films have a unique capacity to explore social and political realties at a level of shared experience,” observed Dr. Rita Csapo-Sweet, Professor of Media Studies at the University of Missouri – St. Louis, one of the series organizers.

“This is especially true of Bosnian and South Slavic cinema, which uses superb storytelling, the intimacy of human relationships, and often dark humor to examine larger cultural and historical questions. As we grapple with our own social and political threats, Bosnian cinema and culture offer fertile ground for discussion and reflection.”

Future Screenings

The free series continues in April and May with screenings at Fontbonne and UM-St. Louis.

Halima’s Path / Halimin put
Friday, April 5, 2019 – 6 pm program / 7 pm screening
Fontbonne University – Taylor Library
Lewis Room – 6800 Wydown Blvd.

Bridges of Sarajevo / Mostovi Sarajeva
Friday, May 3, 2019 – 6 pm program / 7 pm screening
UM – St. Louis – Location TBA

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